Logo Partnership
December 2018


A new page to write all together!


A new page to write all together!

BOURBON sent a strong message when it presented to the market its #BOURBONINMOTION strategic action plan last February 13. It is the message of a proactive group faced with the evolution of its environment and ready to make every effort to respond to the challenges of the new offshore, which is more demanding and in a constant search of optimize costs.

Even though the indicators allow us to think that recovery is close at hand, the return of the price of the barrel under 60 dollars as we end this year reminds us how important it is to remain prudent and concentrated on our primary ambition: to ensure that BOURBON remains a referent company for its clients.

PTo reaffirm our leadership, our 3 new stand-alone companies, Bourbon Marine & Logistics, Bourbon Subsea Services and Bourbon Mobility, deploy their strategy and their organization, thanks to the experience of their employees and the trust of their clients. The success of the installation of a wind turbine off the coast of Scotland (see the video) reflects the performance of our teams on a daily basis. A key word: operational excellence.

The transformation of a company in the context of a crisis is not an easy solution but an act of responsibility towards our clients, all our partners, our shareholders, and, of course, our employees, who both embody and play the principal role in this transformation.

BOURBON is undergoing a major transformation and is writing a new page of its long history, both ambitious and pragmatic and aware of the major efforts that it must still provide to overcome the difficulties, but without forgetting the values on which it has built itself: professionalism, enthusiasm, responsibility, and solidarity. Let's all be contributors!


Thierry Hochoa,
Chief Financial Officer

Expert insight

Successful digital transformation

The world leader on the civil and military helicopter market with a turnover of nearly 6.5 billion euros in 2017, the European Airbus Helicopters group, undertook a plan of transformation in 2013 and initiated its 2nd phase last year. It shares the same challenges as BOURBON: the need to evolve its business model to achieve ever greater operational excellence in a rapidly changing environment. Jérôme Fagot, Digital Transformation Officer & Company Improvement, explains this transformation plan in detail and describes the benefits of digitalization for a company of this size.

PartnerShip : : In a aeronautical industrie often seen as a model by the maritime industry, why has Airbus Helicopters committed itself to a transformation plan?
Jérôme Fagot:
The company grew around a particularity that distinguished it from its competitors: it offers the widest range of helicopters on the market and has the capacity to customize them to fit its clients' needs. We tripled our turnover during the period of strong growth and our priority was to deliver our helicopters on time. We then suffered an increase in our production costs and began to question the company's business model: should we produce more helicopters, in which case it was necessary to revise our industrial model, or did we want to preserve our specificity and stop this development? We strategically chose the 1st option and launched our transformation plan in 2013 placing our priority on the industrialization of the company, notably by taking our inspiration from the automobile industry – with lean processes, new management methods, and new monitoring tools. A first phase dedicated to the identification of dysfunctions was followed by a phase of communication and sharing this diagnosis with all our staff; For me, such an ambition can only succeed if the employees are sufficiently aware and associated to become the actors of this transformation. Finally, once the plan was engaged, expectations were created – people want to see the results. The challenge is thus to reassure and materialize the plan through concrete action at every level, demonstrating that it is not just a simple theoretical exercise.

PS: In your opinion, what are the key factors for the success of a transformation plan?

J. F.: Transparency is an essential factor for success: transparency in the diagnosis and the action plan, and transparency in the plan of progress, based on solid monitoring methods. We implemented a process of monthly reporting of key performance indicators, controlled at the highest level by the management committee and relayed via the managers to all employees. This monthly "meeting" enabled us to regularly communicate internally, but also to better manage the evolution of the projects and to rapidly identify the delays that could arise; in fact, employees also expect and appreciate transparency concerning the failure of certain projects. The method of communication of a transformation plan is also very important. Top management has an essential role to play in this matter: transformation must be its absolute priority. Finally, over and above communication, a transformation plan must be supported by the real conduct of change, including changes to working methods – the development of more agile means, and the promotion of ownership and leadership.

"A transformation plan must be supported by the real conduct of change, including changes to working methods"
Jérôme fagotDigital transformation officer & company improvement

PS: The second phase of your plan, launched in 2017, saw the introduction of digitalization as an accelerator. What are your main projects?

J. F.: We have two main projects. The first concerns the customer experience. We aim to further develop the interaction with our clients better sharing data more effectively. Thanks to this data, we are able to offer them a customized service and more adequate maintenance, to optimize the utilization rate of their helicopters, and to provide them with support for predictive maintenance. Digital tech is an essential lever for generating added value for our clients. Real transformation lies there - by favoring the sharing of information we develop a relationship of trust and partnership with them. As for the 2nd project, it covers the efficiency of our operations and is based on the concept of digital continuity.

PS: What exactly do you mean by digital continuity?

J. F.:The particularity of digital tech is that it brings people and entities closer together and, in the end, modifies the organization. Implementing digital continuity that covers the entire organization means reconciling the different departments, ensuring that this community works collaboratively with the same tools. This enables us to reduce the cycles and avoid the redundancy of information. For example, we have halved the production time for the new H160 helicopter compared with its predecessor and we believe we still have some margin for improvement.

PS:How do you manage to reconcile cost reduction and innovation in the context of your transformation plan?

J. F.: The two are not incompatible. An initial reduction in costs can be achieved by working on the efficiency of internal processes, by simplifying the organization, and by developing new working methods. It is a case of optimization. During the first four years of our transformation plan, we reduced the structural costs of the company by 10%, which is already very significant. Part of these savings were reinjected into innovation as, even in times of a declining market, our innovation investment policy has never wavered. It is one of the strengths of Airbus Helicopters. But we also revised our priorities in this field: to refocus ourselves on projects that provide our clients with added value, work on helicopter flight safety, develop new business models thanks to digitalization, and anticipate tomorrow's markets, notably in the sector of airborne urban mobility. Because, in the end, transformation also means being visionary to better anticipate the changes and, in this respect, history has shown that Airbus Helicopters has been quite successful...

Expert insight
Their stories

Compliance: no compromise

Non-compliance is a major risk in the oil & gas sector, so the BOURBON Compliance department assists the group and its stakeholders on a daily basis to ensure strict observance of ethical rules everywhere in the world. A strong, clear and unambiguous motto: "Compliance, no compromise". Marion Guillaume, Director of the Audit, Risk & Compliance Department, and Elodie Grassi, Compliance Manager, explain


PartnerShip: What are your objectives and what tools do you rely on?
Marion Guillaume: The primary objective is to ensure strict adherence to the BOURBON compliance policy, which includes the fundamentals set forth in the Code of Conduct and the purpose of which is to protect the company but above all BOURBON employees. This means we assist the group, its affiliates and stakeholders to ensure compliance with the laws in our various areas of operation. To do this, we rely on our network of 26 compliance officers around the world. These officers enable us to provide effective support to local teams and to guarantee that the principles of our compliance policy are properly applied. 

Elodie Grassi : The efficiency of our compliance program also relies on regular communication with all of our employees as well as on a training program based on targeted in-person training and on e-learning accessible to our onshore and offshore populations and confirmed by internal certification. Since last year, the group has also strengthened its ethical approach by setting up an ethical hotline.

PS: How does this ethical hotline work?
E. G.: It's an alert line (mail and telephone) accessible 24/7 allowing all our employees and stakeholders to report a situation which wouldn’t be compliant to our Code of Conduct, enabling everyone to be fully involved in risk prevention within the group.

PS: How do you manage risks in the current economic and geopolitical context?
M. G.:
Non-compliance is a major risk in our industry: we operate in complex and various environments where the risk of corruption is considered very high; hence the necessity for a solid compliance policy. In these last four years of violent crises, BOURBON has maintained its compliance standards in the same manner as our safety standards, at the highest level, and has continued to conduct its activities with a constant attention to transparency and ethics. Our compliance teams strive every day to assist our employees and to be there for them for all questions concerning ethics and compliance.

Their stories
Succesful together

Decommissioning of a CALM buoy in Angola: a first!

Subsea operations are special in that they frequently require customized solutions to meet very specific needs. The engineering teams must make the difference and their experience is vital, as we have seen in the past with the well clean-up carried out for the first time from a vessel (read PartnerShip #4). The operation to decommission a CALM1 (Catenary Anchor Leg Mooring) buoy in the Kuito oilfield in Angola, was also a first for Bourbon Subsea Services, which provided the engineering for the project. The story.

Between July 27 and August 12, 2018, the crews of Bourbon Subsea Services, in association with a number of operators, carried out the disconnection of the CALM buoy and then towed it to the Sonamet Yard in Lobito (Angola) for decommissioning. In production from 2000 to 2014, the Kuito oilfield was no longer operated: the FPSO had been disconnected in 2014 and one of the six moorings of the buoy had ruptured. The challenge: to ensure the coordination and supervision of disconnection operations.

« Bourbon Evolution 804 was positioned to raise the anchor chains: thanks to its ROV and crane, the vessel was perfectly suited for the operation, », says Philippe Mazurier,Bourbon Subsea Services project manager. After being cut at a depth of nearly 400 m by the ROV, the chains were lifted and cut up aboard a tug chartered by the client. The risers had been previously cut by a diving team contracted by the client. During this decommissioning operation, AHTS Bourbon Rhesos was connected to the buoy to check its movements and limit the tension on the remaining anchors. Equipped with navigation lights for the occasion, the buoy was then towed for 4 days to Lobito.

« We had to face several difficulties: it was an old installation and access to the buoy had deteriorated. Several vessels worked at close quarters around the buoy and there were numerous operators,», he added. Consequently, the teams participated in numerous briefings to better prepare the operations. To board the buoy, whose ladder had been damaged and no longer met classic boat landing criteria, the seamen were equipped with harnesses and access was strictly limited by weather criteria and conditions of luminosity. Perfect coordination between the crews was necessary to manage the proximity of the vessels at work: regular contacts, painstaking preparation, anticipation of the movements of the vessels, the effect of waves and the movements of the buoy, dedicated radio channels, strict procedures... « Our crew on site left no room for improvisation,», affirmed Philippe Mazurier.

"We are particularly satisfied with the cooperation between the many different operators: this enabled the project to be carried out successfully and efficiently with no accidents"
Philippe mazurierProject Manager - BOURBON SUBSEA SERVICES

The operation was postponed several times because the client wanted to be able to simultaneously position the three vessels with which they already had long-term contracts. « The BOURBON crews had to be particularly flexible and make themselves available as soon as the client had its operational window,», said Philippe Mazurier. It was the first engineering and supervision contract for this client and the crews of the Bourbon Subsea Services grasped the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise. The deadlines were respected with the crews working round the clock. « We are particularly satisfied with the cooperation between the many different operators: this enabled the project to be carried out successfully and efficiently with no accidents,», he concluded.


1CALM: floating buoy anchored on the seabed by catenary chains fixed to anchors

Successful together

Installation of the first offshore windfloat, off Aberdeen

In pictures
Shared views

Boat landing: the safest passengers transfer system

For over thirty years, the Boat Landing system has been used for the transfer of passengers to oil structures in tropical navigation zones up to a wave height of 2.5m Hs1. This safe and reliable technique has become generalized throughout the Oil & Gas industry. An interview with Vincent Coquelet, HSE Manager of Bourbon Mobility.

How can we ensure the embarkation and disembarkation of persons, some of whom may be inexperienced at sea, in a short time and in total safety?
« The Boat Landing is a tubular V-shaped structure in which the Surfer positions itself: it is simple, effective and offers an excellent quality/price/safety ratio. In spite of its basic and rudimentary appearance, this system is constantly evolving and has never ceased to prove itself in oil and gas fields the world over,» replies Vincent Coquelet. The Surfer enters the V and rests against the tubular structure that houses a ladder. Trained for strict procedures, the crew then assist the passengers to climb up, regardless of their level of experience. The system is highly solicited but requires very little maintenance compared with a helideck or a telescopic gangway, which otherwise needs a much longer approach phase in DP mode.

BOURBON's standards and specifications being extremely strict for this equipment, the condition of the landing is monitored by periodic inspections in collaboration with the clients. It is thus thanks to this equipment that BOURBON has transferred over 15 million people since 2014, counting only 1 injury per million passengers without any fatality, that makes the safest system, notably regarding frog/basket2 or helicopter3. Contributor to the design of this system from the beginning, BOURBON has become its referent and is regularly contacted to design or assess installations. Manufacturing standards have thus been defined during 30 years of accumulated experience. They concern the distance between the tubes, their diameter, the position of the ladders, the location of the structure on the platform, etc.

" The Boat Landing enables the totally safe transfer of up to 3 passengers per minute on average. This transfer system proves to be the most efficient on the market "
Vincent CoqueletHSE Manager - Bourbon Mobility

Even though the equipment itself has evolved little, the methods have significantly changed. « Pilots are required to carry out a prior risk analysis, which entails periods of observation before and after entering the Boat Landing,», adds Vincent Coquelet. « Then, when the critical phase of passenger transfer begins, we have implemented numerous measures to optimize safety. Checklists have been developed, concise and standardized language has been established to limit any confusion in the instructions given, for clear communication with the passenger, especially during embarkation, when they may be 3 meters above the surfer on the offshore installation. Green armbands are also made available to less experienced passengers, so that they can benefit from special attention during the transfer. ». Some tools have been or are being implemented, including new training videos on board and ashore before embarking, safety information distributed before embarking, and safety information to be found on passenger seats. In addition, a system of training and audits by local referent seamen consolidates all these procedures.

Other tools are being developed, such as an online application with a validation test to be completed by the passengers before embarkation or a virtual reality simulator to prepare for disembarkation, which can be very daunting for beginners.


1Hs: significant height is a statistical quantity used to characterize the state of the sea. It is often abbreviated to Hs. It represents the average height (measured between the crest and the trough) of a third of the highest waves. This historical definition derives from the estimation of wave height by visual observation, the significant height being close to that estimated by an observer.

2 Frog et basket: passenger transport per crane or nacelle

3 Rates recorded: 1 death per 5 million people transported by frog or baskets (DNV-GL 2014), or 1 death per 243,000 people transported by helicopter (IOGP 2016).

Three questions for: Hoel Bertrand-Kerouedan, a surfer pilot

PartnerShip: how would you judge the Boat Landing system as a daily user?
Hoel Bertrand-Kerouedan:
During the transport of personnel by Crew boats, the embarkation and disembarkation phases effectively follow each other, but it is not because we are used to it that we can allow ourselves to be less vigilant. Entering the Boat Landing requires concentration, because there is always a potential risk at sea. But today I do not see any process safer than the Boat Landing to stabilize the Surfer in front of a platform.

PS: What procedure do you apply
H. B-K :
After assessing the sea, wind and swell conditions, as well as the state of the Boat Landing itself, we establish communication with the platform, which authorizes us to land or not, depending on the operations in progress. This communication is essential. After a trial in reverse to avoid any surprises, we reduce the engine speed to brake the Surfer's way* and we come up against the structure. Of course, it is sometimes necessary to turn back because of difficult weather conditions. Safety is our number 1 priority – we take no risks.

PS: How do you ensure your passengers' safety?
H. B-K:
We always notify them when we are about to land and broadcast a video informing them of the procedures in progress. Moreover, as is the case for aircraft, safety documentation is available on board and we encourage them to read it. Although some passengers are used to the process, others are less used to it and are therefore naturally more apprehensive: the distribution of armbands to enable us to identify less experienced passengers has been a real help for the crews. In this case, our vigilance is key to ensuring totally safe transfer.

*The residual speed of a vessel after stopping its propulsion

Shared views

Bourbon Marine & Logistics at a glance